Words are very powerful.  In a recovery oriented program, we must pay attention to language and how to use language to support people, encourage hope and empowerment.  Language in the behavioral health field can be very stigmatizing and cause undo pain.



Words3Use Language that is strengths-based

Use Language that inspires hope

Use Language that gives encouragement

Use Language that inspires

Use Language that comforts

Use Language that supports and engages




IRP Planning and Language

  • Use Person-First terms
  • Avoid overly negative connotations
  • Be careful not to communicate hierarchy / social control
  • Most importantly – defer to the person “when in doubt”


Medical Necessity

According to Adams and Grieder (year), the definition of Medical Necessity is:

“The clear demonstration that there is a legitimate clinical need and that the services provided are an appropriate response.”

  • Symptoms support diagnosis and lead to functional deficits/barriers in the person’s life.
  • Treatment/interventions target the functional deficits to reduce or eliminate the impact of the diagnoses.


5 Elements of Medical Necessity

  1. Indicated – there is a diagnosis to treat
  2. Appropriate – there is a match between the interventions provided and the individual’s need
  3. Efficacious – the intervention has been proven to work
  4. Effective – the intervention IS working
  5. Efficient – time and resource sensitive


Adapted from

Adams, N. & Grieder, D. (2005). Treatment Planning for Person-Centered Care: The Road to Mental Health and Addiction Recovery. Maryland Heights, MO: Elsevier.